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Washington State’s new Breath Test Machines are Here!

Posted Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

In 2009, the Washington State Patrol began the process of replacing its aging fleet of breath test machines called the DataMaster with something new. Eventually, breath machines called the Draeger Alcotest 9510 were approved and purchased by the state. Although initially thought to be state-of-the-art, subsequent litigation has revealed some serious issues in how the machine’s software and how it manipulates the reported results.

This new machine’s software is an important component of breath testing evidence because it directs the physical operation of the breath testing instrument, analyzes the breath sample, and produces the BAC ticket with purported results. These results are then used by the prosecutor to prove a violation of the DUI laws.

The breath test evidence is much more than just the printed numbers. The breath test results are the expression of a set of complex processes involving the hardware and software of the instrument that produces the result and are available for review.

We believe that the Draeger sodtware has substantial flaws and the code produces artificially high results and extrapolates a higher result without the use of a standard to properly calibrate it. As defense counsel, we should have a right to the source code and this is what we are continuing to fight for.

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